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As a follow-up to Monday's Youth Teaching Youth Event at Mnjikaning-Kendaaswin Elementary School, Elder Two Bears, Mrs. Letiec's Grade 6 class and three staff members from Mnjikaning came to Rama Central today to share more of their culture and heritage with our Grade 5's.

Two Bears introduced and closed our session, and small groups of students from Mnjikaning taught small groups of Grade 5 students from our school about Turtle Island, The Medicine Wheel, Wampum Belts and Treaties, and First Nations self-sufficiency on the land.

Here are some pictures from today's visit (click on any picture to enlarge it):

Learning about First Nations culture and heritage (Grade 5 Social Studies curriculum) through face-to-face interaction with members of a local First Nations community is so much more meaningful, authentic and engaging than attempting to acquire similar knowledge via books or the internet. We want to thank the elders, staff and students at Mnjikaning, once again, for their kindness and hospitality!

Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.

Today, Rama Central's Grade 5 students had the privilege of attending a "Youth Teaching Youth" event on the Rama Reserve.  Grade 6 students and teachers from Mnjikaning-Kendaaswin Elementary School, and community elders, shared their cultural and environmental teachings with us.

2014-05-12 004The opening circle, which included Smudging and Water Ceremonies,
and a strawberry teaching

Our students also learned about the Metis, the War of 1812, had an opportunity to engage in some First Nations games and crafts, and were treated to a traditional First Nations meal. We want to sincerely thank our hosts for including Rama Central in this event, for the second year in a row.

Here are some photos from our amazing day at Mnjikaning (click on any photo to enlarge it):

2014-05-12 049Closing circle

The Grade 6 class from Mnjikaning-Kendaaswin Elementary School will be coming to Rama Central on Wednesday, to share more of their culture with us. This wonderful authentic learning experience fulfills Grade 5 curriculum expectations in Social Studies (First Nations culture and identity), while building positive relationships between students in our communities.

Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.

Today, we held a Social Studies and Science fair in our classroom.  Students had an opportunity to showcase for other students in our class the research projects they had been working on for the past month. They were also able to browse and learn about the topics that other students studied.

Grade 4 students completed travel posters for Social Studies, enticing people to visit ancient civilizations. Grade 5 students completed posters or Power Point presentations for Science (Matter and Materials), explaining how a variety of products are made and used.  In the next week or so, we will put the fair on again and invite younger students to come and see our class' work.

Here is a gallery of pictures from today's fair (click on any picture to enlarge it):

Click on the bulleted items below to view some of the Grade 5 Power Point presentations. (Note: These links will only work if your computer has the Microsoft Power Point installed on it).

Next step:  We will be inviting the Grade 2 class in to see our work.

Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.

Overall expectation #1 in Writing, in the Ontario Curriculum, asks students to "generate, gather, and organize ideas and information to write for an intended purpose and audience." This project provided students with an opportunity to write for two purposes and three different audiences.

We asked the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre (KTTC) to help us turn our persuasive writing unit into something with a real purpose. Staff at the centre told us they would love it if we would write some letters aimed at persuading potential donors (companies and those offering grants) to support KTTC. They said they would also appreciate some kids' thank you letters that they could give to donors.

As you can see from the following pictures, working for a real-world client inspired students to do exemplary work. These are their persuasive letters (click on any photo to enlarge it):

These are samples of their thank you letters to donors:

We also wrote thank you letters to the staff and volunteers at the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre for the amazing work they do!  Here are samples of those letters:

Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.

This year, our persuasive writing unit fulfills Grade 4 and 5 curriculum expectations in Writing, Grade 4 expectations in the Science strand "Habitats and Communities," and Grade 5 expectations in the Social Studies strand "First Nations Heritage and Identity" (turtle symbolism)... plus, as a bonus, our writing may save the lives of some turtles! In consultation with staff from the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre, we are writing letters intended to persuade companies to support the centre.


The Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre, in Peterborough, is a twelve year old Canadian registered charity that rescues, rehabilitates and returns to the wild over 1,000 turtles per year. The centre also engages in wild and released turtle population research, conservation initiatives such as establishing "eco-passages" that allow turtles to cross under busy roadways, and education outreach.

After students' persuasive letters are graded, and writer strengths and "next steps" identified, the letters will be forwarded to the to the turtle hospital. Staff there will include student-authored letters with applications for support from companies.

We began the project by educating ourselves about Ontario turtles, and the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre. Seven out of eight species of Ontario turtles are at risk!



These videos and websites provide a good overview:


Based on what we learned, we brainstormed information about the role of turtles, why Ontario turtles are at risk, the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre and how people can help. This is what we came up with:


Next, we discussed the elements that make a good persuasive letter and agreed upon the following success criteria (click on the photo to enlarge it):


Then, we began planning our letters and authoring first drafts (click on any photo to enlarge it):

After drafts were edited by peers, students began to write good copies of their letters and draw pictures of Ontario turtles on them (click on any photo to enlarge it):

Students are taking great care with this project.  In a future BLOG post, we will share the final products!

Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.


Last week, during Literacy and Social Studies periods, our class participated in an island survivor exercise.  This exercise was designed to consolidate learning in Social Studies, while stretching students' ability to work cooperatively in assigned groups and providing them with an opportunity to participate in role play.

Prior to undertaking this project, students in Grade 4 worked in pairs, or individually, to research one of Canada's physical regions. Students in Grade 5 completed an inquiry project exploring the tasks various levels of government might undertake in addressing an emergency such as a major regional ice storm. Students' learning in Social Studies was assessed based on these projects.

Each student then created a character he/she wished to play during our island survivor project and was assigned to a group destined to "crash land" in one of four Canadian regions. Click on any photo to enlarge it.

2013-12-02 044

These are our Learning Goals, co-created Success Criteria, and scenario. The Learning Goals focus upon applying student learning from Social Studies to solve a problem, cooperation and drama.


For the purpose of the island survivor exercise, Grade 4 students were assigned to crash land in the region of Canada that they studied. After the class was divided into their survivor groups and they listened to a story about the crash scenario, the Grade 4 students in each group taught their Grade 5 island-mates about the region of Canada where they found themselves stranded:

2013-12-02 038

In our scenario, the plane went down in water and sunk. Survivors were able to paddle to a nearby island, in a lifeboat, with the following supplies:


Their first task, as a group, was to brainstorm a list of uses for each of their supplies:

Then they worked on the tasks of developing survival plans, a form of government, laws, an environmental protection plan for their island, a flag, and a map of their island (depicting landforms, vegetation, water sources, their settlements and paths to their hunting and fishing areas, etc.)  To assist them with the mapping task, each group was provided with a laminated satellite image of an actual island in the physical region where they were stranded in the scenario.

The Newfoundland (Appalachia) and Nunavut (Arctic Lowlands) groups were both stranded on islands surrounded by sea water, but had fresh water available on their islands. The Nunavut group was in the high arctic, above the tree line. The Ontario (Canadian Shield) and British Columbia (Cordillera) groups were stranded on islands surrounded by fresh water. The British Columbia group was in an area of Northern B.C. with high mountains on either side of their lake.

Students were initially told that their chance of ever being rescued was slim to none; that they needed to prepare to spend the winter or longer on their island.  Once groups had completed their plans, flags and maps, they were told that, miraculously, they HAD been rescued, and that they would soon be invited to participate in a press conference. At the press conference, they would explain their experiences and survival plans (in role) to a gallery of print, television and internet journalists. Groups then set about preparing for their press conferences.

While each group presented, the rest of the students in the class played the role of journalists, asking questions and completing forms rating presenters on their plans, and their perceived chance of surviving the winter had they not been rescued. Everyone took the drama seriously and ensured that all questions about each group's plans were fully explained.


Our student teacher (Miss M) and I used checklists and anecdotal notes to rate how well students cooperated within their groups throughout the island survivor exercise, and used a rubric to assess each student's performance in drama:

2013-12-10 007

Island Survivor was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for most students in the class; a frustrating one for a few. While groups were meeting to brainstorm ideas and achieve consensus about their survival plans, Miss M. and I circulated. We stepped in and facilitated whenever personality clashes or inexperience with consensus-building created an impasse. We hope the one-on-one and small group coaching that transpired during this activity will provide students with some new tools and strategies they can employ next time they are working within a group setting.


Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.

On Tuesday, May 14th, the Grade 6's at Rama Central attended a celebration of Aboriginal culture at the Rama First Nation Community Centre.  Our hosts rolled out the red carpet for us.  Students, teachers and community elders ran a wide variety of cultural activities. The day included a morning circle, Aboriginal sports and crafts, an Ojibway language lesson, a traditional Aboriginal feast, storytelling and dance.  Here are some images from our wonderful day at Mnjikaning (click on any link to enlarge it):

Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.


This morning, the Grade 5/6 class from Mnjikaning Kendaaswin Elementary School visited our school with their teacher, Laura Lateic, one of their Elders and two Educational Assistants.  They met with the Grade 6 students at Rama Central, who are starting a Social Studies unit about First Nations people and European Explorers.

Elder "Two Bears" shared some important and wise life teachings.  Students seemed to really respond to his down-to-earth and engaging manner.  They also enjoyed hearing about his experiences as a student at Rama Central P.S.  Two Bears transferred from a one room schoolhouse to Rama Central the year it opened.  At the time, he was in Grade 4.  As a Grade 7 student he designed the Rama Central logo we still use today, and his Grade 8 class was in our classroom!

After Two Bears' talk, the Grade 6 students from our school broke into four small groups.  Each group learned about a different topic having to do with Aboriginal culture and traditions, with students from Mnjikaning acting as presenters and discussion leaders.

Our visitors from Mnjikaning also gifted us with some wonderful keepsakes:  a large Rama First Nation Flag for our school, signed by students in their Grade 5/6 class, a beautiful dream catcher for our classroom and a lovely beaded lanyard for Mrs. Black.

Here are some pictures from our visit.  (Click on any picture to see it enlarged.)

Over the next few weeks, each group of Grade 6 students from our school will delve into their particular topic in greater detail and then make a presentation to the whole group.  The four topics are as follows:

  • Turtle Island
  • The Seven Grandfather Teachings
  • The Medicine Wheel
  • Contributions of Aboriginal People and Ideas

Our new friends from Mnjikaning School have offered to act as resource people, should we need any information or advice as we progress with our Aboriginal Studies unit.  We also plan to visit with them again later in the school year.

Miigwech!  THANK YOU SO MUCH to Two Bears, the Grade 5/6 class at Mnjikaning, their teacher and their helpers for coming to see us today, and for their friendship and kind assistance!


Thanks for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.

On Friday, January 18th, Ian McCallum, a Itinerant Resource Teacher with the Simcoe County District School Board, came to our class to do a presentation.  He shared some of his experiences growing up as a child in a very small Aboriginal community in Southern Ontario, explained some First Nations teachings and conducted a smudging ceremony with the class.

This presentation was the perfect introduction to the Grade 6 Aboriginal Studies unit, which is scheduled from February through June.

Here is Ian's visit, in pictures:

Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black):  mblack@mail1.scdsb.on.caor to add a comment to this page.

The Grade 5 students in our class recently completed their models of colonies in ancient Greece, Egypt and China.  The results were outstanding, as were the Power Point and BLOG presentations that groups created to showcase the research behind the models.  Here are the models:

by Chelsea, Isaac, Kyle, Robert and Spencer


by Aidan, Brandon, Daniel B., Daniel N., David and Timothy


by Hanna, Julia, Kevin, Nicholas and Taiten

These models are currently on display in our school library.

Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.   If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me: or to add a comment to this page.

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